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Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 




Dorothy L. Sayers 

Harcourt, Brace and Company 
New York 


All rights in the play are reserved by the Author and inquiries 

regarding the dramatic rights should be addressed to Dorothy 

Allen, 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, W.i (in conjunction with 

Pearn, Pollinger & Higham Ltd,) 

first American edition 



A SCHOOLBOY, asked to state what he knew of Mary 
Tudor, replied: "She was known as Bloody Mary but 
she was not half as bloody as you'd think.** 

We might reasonably expect Miss Sayers, since the 
previous plays written or performed at the invitation of 
the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral have concerned 
prelates and kings who have come to violent and un- 
timely ends, to write with relish of archbishops and as- 
sassination, for she has already proved herself to be 
thoroughly at home with peers and homicide. But, like 
Mary Tudor, she has not fulfilled our sanguine expecta- 
tions. Many will be relieved to find that her hero is an 
architect, that such violence as there may be is acci- 
dental, and that, though a rope is the instrument of his 
downfall, it is accessory to a windlass and not to a 

At a time when all works of fiction are prefaced by a 
passionate declaration that the author's characters are 
entirely imaginary, it is a pleasant change to have to 
vouch for the authenticity of the main protagonists in 
this play. It is true that, while most people are fa- 
miliar with the names of those who damaged or were 
murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, William of Sens, 
who designed and built the greater part of it, is not as 
well known as he ought to be. When the choir was 

burnt down in 1174, he was chosen by a nervous Chap- 
ter to undertake the work of reconstruction. Then as 
now, that a foreigner in competition with native con- 
tractors should be selected for such a task must have 
caused furious comment. Nevertheless, in the face of 
official timidity and practical obstacles, he succeeded in 
raising from the ashes of Lanfranc's work the leaping 
choir which we cherish today. This creation, magnifi- 
cent as it is, might hardly seem to be suitable material 
for a dramatic work. But Miss Sayers chooses William 
of Sens to be the vehicle for her theme of the artist who 
in the supreme moment of mastery over his craft may 
be thrown down and destroyed by a consuming and 
wasting infirmity, the germ of which is in us all and 
which too often, fostered by our unawareness, destroys 
virtue and vitality with its insidious infection. Though 
few may have fallen physically as far and as hard as 
William, many have fallen away artistically and have 
perished without the revelation which was granted to 

The only scenes which may be suspect historically are 
those between William and the Lady Ursula. It might 
be considered a little unfair to credit William with an 
imaginary intrigue; but, in fact, Miss Sayers has in- 
genious and moderately sound reasons for doing so. 

Our authority for these events is the contemporary 
chronicle of Gervase the Monk. After recording with 
horror and enthusiasm the fire and the rebuilding, he 
refers to William's accident in a strange and pregnant 


sentence; he attributes the calamity to "either the 
Vengeance of God or the Envy of the Devil/* Can we 
not detect in this the verdict of one who, while full of 
admiration for the Master's work, has watched with dis- 
approval, and not a little envy, the pride and license 
which the artist has been at little pains to conceal, and 
now records a well-merited if lamented punishment 
with righteous satisfaction? Herein may be the clue to 
some such fall from grace as that which Miss Sayers 
suggests in the scenes between the architect and his 

For the rest the play deals with well-established facts. 
Avoiding sham archaism and the fusty language which 
is too often expected and provided in plays of period, 
it presents the Middle Ages as being very little removed 
in essentials from our own. Petrol and patent medicines 
have taken the place of the windlass and the faith- 
healing of the pilgrims, but human fallibility and the 
inspiration of the artist remain constant. The Arch- 
angels who from time to time descend into the arena 
and direct the destinies of the groundlings need not 
bewilder the reader or the spectator. They represent 
the Will of God, Fate, Providence, Accident or what 
you will and, in the final scenes, that bright flash of 
intuition which occasionally illuminates even the most 
clouded conscience. 

Laurence Irving 


THE ZEAL OF THY HOUSE was first presented, 
in a slightly shortened form, at the Canterbury Fes- 
tival, 1937? by the Friends of the Cathedral; Pro- 
ducer: Harcourt Williams, in association with Frank 

My best thanks are due to Miss Margaret Babing- 
ton and the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral for 
inviting me to write the play and for much hos- 
pitable kindness; to Mr. Laurence Irving and Miss 
Elizabeth Haffenden, who designed the stage and the 
costumes respectively; to Mr. G. H. Knight, who 
arranged the music; to the large cast of professional 
and amateur actors who interpreted the play with so 
much skill and enthusiasm; and, last but not least, to 
Mr. Williams and Mr. Napier, who, in addition to 
playing the important parts of William of Sens and 
Theodatus, coped so patiently and generously with 
the problems of production presented to them by an 
inexperienced playwright. 

Dorothy L. Sayers 


Angelic Persons: 


RAPHAEL I Archangels 


CASSIEL, the Recording Angel 

A YOUNG CHERUB, Thurifer to Raphael 



STEPHEN, the Treasurer 

THEODATUS, the Sacristan 

MARTIN, the Guest-Brother and Infirmarian 

AMBROSE, the Choirmaster 

WULFRAM, the Director of the Farm 

ERNULPHUS, the Director of the Kitchen and 


PAUL, the Gardener 
HILARY, the Almoner 
SILVESTER, the Painter 
GERVASE, the Historian and Clerk 
HUBERT, an Oblate, Superintendent of the Rough Masons 


WILLIAM OF SENS, Architect to the Cathedral 


TT _ r f Rival Architects 




of the 






TT 5* Workmen 





Monks; Lay-Brothers; Workmen; Pilgrims of both sexes 

Two Cantors and a Choir of Mixed Voices 

The action takes place during the years 1175-1179. 

NOTE: The names Michael, Raphael, are to be pronounced 
as trisyllables throughout. 



At the opening of the play, the scene is set as for a 
meeting of the Chapter, with seats about a long table. 
The CHOIR having entered and taken their places, they 
sing the hymn following: 


Disposer supreme, and judge of the earth, 
Thou choosest for Thine the weak and the poor; 
To frail earthen vessels and things of no worth 
Entrusting Thy riches which aye shall endure. 

Those vessels soon fail, though full of Thy light, 
And at Thy decree are broken and gone; 
Then brightly appeareth the arm of Thy might, 
As through the clouds breaking the lightnings have 

[During the singing of the second half of this verse, 
there enter MICHAEL, RAPHAEL with his THURIFER, 
GABRIEL and CASSIEL the Recorder. They pass slowly 
to the steps while the next verse is sung. 

Like clouds are they borne to do Thy great will, 
And swift as the wind about the world go; 
All full of Thy Godhead while earth lieth still, 
They thunder, they lighten, the waters o'erflow. 

y. He maketh His angels spirits. 
IJT. And His ministers a flaming fire. 



I am God's servant Michael the Archangel; 
I walk in the world of men invisible, 
Bearing the sword that Christ bequeathed His Church 
To sunder and to save. 


I am God's servant 
Raphael the Archangel; and I walk 
In the world of men invisible; I receive 
Prayer spoken or unspoken, word or deed 
Or thought or whatsoever moves the heart, 
Offering it up before the Throne. 


I am 

God's servant the Archangel Gabriel, 
The heavenly runner between God and man, 
Moving invisible. 


God's Recorder, I, 

That keep the Book and cast up all accounts, 
Cassiel, chief scrivener to the Courts of Heaven. 

y. Their sound is gone out into all lands. 
1^. And their words into the ends of the world. 

[During the singing of the following verse, the 
ANGELIC PERSONS depart severally, MICHAEL standing 
above RAPHAEL on the right side of the steps, and the 


THURIFER kneeling below them; CASSIEL with his book 
on the left side of the steps with GABRIEL above. 


Oh, loud be Thy trump and stirring the sound, 
To rouse us, O Lord, from sin's deadly sleep; 
May lights which Thou kindlest in darkness around 
The dull soul awaken her vigils to keep. 

[The Recorder, CASSIEL, sits at his desk; 

RAPHAEL hands his censer to the THURIFER, and sits. 

What is our business here today in Canterbury? 

CASSIEL (slapping the Book rather sharply open and 

running his finger down the page) 
A meeting o the Cathedral Chapter to choose an 
architect for the rebuilding of the choir after the great 
fire of 1174. 

RAPHAEL (reminiscently) 

Ah, yes the choir, I was sorry to see the old one go. It 
was very beautiful, and a favourite haunt of mine. 
Prayer had soaked into the stones and sanctified them. 

CASSIEL (austerely) 

Mankind are exceedingly careless of their possessions. 
I have an entry against one Tom Hogg, neatherd, who 
neglected to clean his chimney and so had his thatch set 
on fire. The sparks were blown across the road and 


lodged under the lead roof of the church. In a short 
time all was ablaze. 


A heavy consequence for a light offence. Was that your 
doing, Michael? 


It was. I bore the flame betwixt my hands and set it 
among the rafters. We fanned it with our wings, my 
angels and I, riding upon the wind from the south. 

CASSIEL (muttering to himself over the Book) 
. . . and seven, twenty-six . . . and three, twenty-nine 
. . . and nine, thirty-eight. . . . 

Was it done to avenge the murder of the Archbishop? 

. . . and six. Put down four and carry eight. 

I do not know. I am a soldier. I take my orders. 

CASSIEL (casting up a column and ruling a line 

beneath it) 

We all do that, Michael. Your interference in the matter 
does not affect the debit against Tom Hogg. He stands 
charged with Sloth to a considerable amount. What use 
was made of his sin is neither here nor there. It is a 
question of economics. 


Quite so. I could have done the work perfectly well 
myself, with a thunderbolt. Hogg's sin was not in the 
least necessary. 

GABRIEL (in humorous resignation) 
Nothing that men do is ever necessary. At least, that is 
my experience. I find them very amusing. 

[The sound of the "Vent Creator" is heard from the 
lower end of the Chapter-House as the CHOIR-MONKS 
enter in procession. 

I find them very pathetic. 


You see them at their best, Raphael; as Michael sees 
them at their worst. 


I find them very perverse. If God were not infinite, they 
would surely exhaust His patience. 


They make a great deal of work in the counting house. 
Happily, being an angel, and not a man, I like work. 
The hatred of work must be one of the most depressing 
consequences of the Fall. 


Some men work like angels and whistle over their 
work. They are much the most cheerful kind. 


[In the meantime, RAPHAEL has met the MONKS at the 
foot of the steps and now precedes them to the Chap- 
ter, swinging his censer before them. The last verse of 
the hymn is sung by the MONKS standing about the 
table. Then all sit RAPHAEL comes down to sit beside 
MICHAEL. CASSIEL opens the Book at a fresh page and 
prepares to take minutes of the meeting. 


Brethren, the business before us is, as you know, the 
appointment of an architect for the new choir. Our 
earlier discussions have brought the number of suitable 
candidates down to three. Today we have to make our 
final choice. 

Under God's guidance. 


Under God's guidance, of course, Father Theodatus. 
The three men in question are John of Kent, William 
of Sens, and Henry of York. 

Have we got the estimates, Father Prior? 

PRIOR (handing papers to STEPHEN) 

I have two of them here. Henry of York's is lower than 
John of Kent's. He thinks he can restore the existing 
fabric without pulling it all down and rebuilding. 


Will that be safe? Some of the masonry looks to me very 
insecure. John of Kent is a local man he has had more 
opportunity to judge. Besides, it would look well to give 
the work to a local man. 


John is very young young men are always full of ex- 
travagant ideas. No experience. 


One must encourage young men. The future is with the 


John's estimate is certainly rather high. I don't think 
we can countenance extravagance, 


We must consider expense, of course, Father Treasurer. 
Perhaps we had better have the architects in and hear 
what they have to say. Father Gervase if you will be so 

[GERVASE goes out by door, right. 


Speaking as Choirmaster, may I urge here and now that 
we should get a man who understands something about 
acoustics. The old choir 


What we want is the old choir restored to what it was 
before. I dislike this trivial modern stuff they are 
putting up all over the place, with its pointed arcading 
and flourishy capitals. Give me something solid, like 


One must move with the times, Father Paul. Now 
William of Sens is a progressive man. 


He is a foreigner. Why should we have a foreigner? 
Isn't an Englishman good enough? Money should be 
kept in the country. 


We do not seem to have had an estimate from William 
of Sens. 

[Re-enter GERVASE right with JOHN OF KENT, WIL- 


Not yet. He writes to me here Ah, good morning, 
sirs. Pray come to the table. We have received your 
letters and considered your qualifications. We are now 
minded to hear your further opinions, after inspection 
of the site. You, Master Henry, have submitted a very 
conservative estimate of the cost of reconstruction. 



My Lord Prior, I have kept the expense down to the 
lowest possible figure; and after examination of the 
standing masonry I have prepared a plan and elevation, 

[Producing it. 

Let us have that. 

[HENRY puts the plan before the PRIOR and moves 
across to left of table. 


You will see that I have allowed for keeping the greater 
part of the standing fabric. (THEODATUS and ERNULPHUS 
on PRIOR'S left examine the plan.) With the exception 
of the more grievously damaged portions which I have 
marked, I see no reason why the present structure may 
not be restored- 

[He passes plan down to the MONKS, on left. 

My Lord Prior 


and put into good order along the original lines. The 
existing outer walls may be retained 


You think they are not too much weakened by the 
action of the fire? 



Weakened? They are calcined in places almost to 


They can be patched and grouted, Master John; and 
by the addition of supporting buttresses and by altering 
the pitch of the roof so as to lessen the thrust 

SILVESTER (who has been studying the plan with 


Will not the effect of the buttresses be somewhat < 


There is something a little mean in the proportions of 
this roof. 

AMBROSE (who is a man of one idea) 

I should think it would be bad for sound. After all, the 
chief use of a choir is to hold services in. 


The sooner we get a choir the better. The singing has 
been very bad lately. I am ashamed to hear sacred words 
so howled. 

[Hands back plan to HENRY, who takes it across, 
right, to WULFRAM. 

AMBROSE (defensively) 

The nave is very awkward to sing in. What with the 
west end boarded up 


Well, we can't be expected to hold our services in full 
view, not to say smell, of the common people. 

And the east end boarded up 

[ERNULPHUS quietly falls asleep. 

WULFRAM (taking plan) 

The draughts are appalling. I caught a shocking cold 
last Tuesday. 


We are singing in a wooden box. You can't sing 
properly in a box. 

Time is certainly of some importance. 

The cost is still more important. 

HENRY (moving up again left of table) 
To repair, according to my plan, will be very much 
cheaper and quicker than to pull down and rebuild. I 
could engage to be ready within two years 


And in two years more you will have to rebuild again. 
My Lord Prior 


You, Master John, recommend a complete reconstruc- 


Recommend? It must be done. Do not be deceived* 
This botching is useless and dangerous. It is unworthy 


Master John, I am older than you and more experi- 


You never in your life built anything bigger than a 
parish church. 

Master John, Master John! 


This is the Cathedral Church of Christ at Canterbury. 
It must be the wonder of the realm nay, of the world! 
Will you insult God with patchwork? Give me the 
commission, Lord Prior, and I will build you a church 
worth looking at! 

[Producing plan and elevation^ which he passes to 

To the greater glory of Master John of Kent! 



To the glory of God and of the blessed Saints Dunstan 
and Elphege. 

STEPHEN (aside to the PRIOR) 

And the entire depletion of the Treasury. Will some- 
body please tell me where the money is to come from? 


The devotion of the common people is most touching. 
A poor widow yesterday brought us five farthings, all 
her little savings. 

Our Lord will reward her. But that will not go very far. 


I think we ought to take the long view. Canterbury is 
the most important church in the Kingdom, and attracts 
a great many people to the town. What with the visitors 
and the great increase in the number of pilgrims since 
the lamented death of the late Archbishop 

Blessed St. Thomas, pray for us. 

[They cross themselves. 


A little money spent now on building will repay itself 
handsomely in donations and bequests. 

[STEPHEN passes the plan to HILARY. 


THEODATUS (rather loudly} 

If the fire was a Divine judgment for the Archbishop's 

ERNULPHUS (waking with a start) 
Eh? the Archbishop? Blessed St. Thomas, pray for us. 

[He crosses himself and falls asleep instantly. 


I say, if the fire was a judgment, then the new building 
is a reparation to God, and should be an offering worthy 
of its high destination and a sufficient sacrifice for the 
sins of this country. 


No artist can do his best work when he has to consider 
every halfpenny. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox 


All this talk about money is sheer lack of faith. God 
will provide. 


No doubt. But, humanly speaking, the accounts will 
have to go through the Treasury, and I feel responsible. 

HILARY (passing design to PAUL) 
There is a good deal of elaborate and expensive orna- 
ment here, Master John. 


Modern nonsense, modern nonsense. Let us have the 
old choir back. Here is a groined roof and a clerestory 


and a lot of fiddle-faddle. How long is all this going to 

JOHN (uncompromisingly) 
Seven years perhaps more. 


Seven years! Have we to put up with half a cathedral 
for seven years? Why, God made the world in six days! 


God, Father Martin, was not subject to limitations of 
funds or material. 

JOHN (angrily aside to WILLIAM) 

Nor to the cheese-paring parsimony of a monastic chap- 

WILLIAM (who has listened to all this with a quiet 

smile; with a touch of humour) 
Possibly God is an abler architect than any of us. 


We have not yet heard your opinion, Master William. 
Do you think it possible to restore the remaining fabric? 


Oh, I should think very likely. I should certainly hope 
to save some of it. 

JOHN (angrily to WILLIAM) 
That is not what you said to us outside. 


But I really cannot sayI do not see how anybody can 
saywithout prolonged and careful examination. 

That's very true. Very reasonable. 


That is why I have as yet prepared no estimate or plan. 
But I have brought some drawings of the work en- 
trusted to me at Sens and elsewhere which will give you 
some idea of the kind of thing I should like to do here. 

[Hands papers to PRIOR. 


Now, I like that. Extremely fine and dignified. And very 
modern in feeling. 

And not too ornate. 

[WILLIAM hands them on down right. 


It is wonderful. It is like a poem in stone. I should 
dearly love to see it. How light and yet how majestic! 

[He looks admiringly at WILLIAM. 


Time and cost would depend on the extent of the work. 
I suggest making a thorough survey before getting out 
a preliminary plan and estimate. Naturally, I should 


commit you to nothing without the advice and approval 
of yourself, Lord Prior and the Father Treasurer. 

Just so. We should object to nothing in reason. 

WILLIAM (he has now got the ear of the house) 

I should be obliged (firmly) to stipulate for the best 

God's service demands the best materials. 


But we can effect an economy by making good use of 
local talent, of which I am sure we must possess a great 


I am all in favour of local talent. 


And we may reduce the cost of shipping and carriage by 
the use of certain mechanical devices of my own inven- 
tion, which I need not say I shall be happy to place at 
the disposal of the authorities without extra fee. 


Thank you that is very proper, very generous. . . . 
H'm. Well, Brethren, I think we have now the facts 
before us. If these gentlemen would kindly retire for a 
few moments. . . . 


[General movement, GERVASE goes up, right, to door. 

ERNULPHUS (waking with a start} 
Eh, what? what? Have we finished? 


No, Father Ernulphus. The architects are retiring while 
we deliberate. 

Oh, I see. Very good. 

[He falls asleep again. 


Two or three years only, Lord Priorsay four at most 
and a strict regard for economy. 

[Exit HENRY. 


Consider, Lord Priora structure worthy of its dedica- 
tionand safety to life and limb, if you think that 

[Exit JOHN. 

Sir, if I am chosen, I will do my best. 

[Exit WILLIAM. GERVASE follows them off. The rest 
examine the plans and documents. 

The motives of mankind are lamentably mixed. 


They mean well, I assure you. 

Then it is a pity they do not say what they mean. 


It is most confusing. I have worn out my pen trying to 
keep up with them. 

That is easily remedied. Allow me. 

[He plucks a feather from his own wing and hands it 
to CASSIEL as GERVASE re-enters and shuts the door. 

CASSIEL (trimming the feather into a pen) 
Thank you. 

Well, Brethren? 

I must say, Master Henry's plan seems rather makeshift. 


He is a Yorkshire man. I would as soon have a foreigner 
as a Yorkshire man. 


He is too anxious to please. First he says two years- 
then three or four. I should not rely on his estimate. 


Are we agreed, then, not to appoint Henry of York? 
(The MONKS signify agreement.} Then that leaves us the 
choice between John of Kent and William of Sens. 

What will they make of that? 

They will choose the man whom God has appointed. 

I shall see to it that they do. 


Let us have John. He is a local man. 

[As the MONKS give their votes, GERVASE notes them 


Yes; his church will attract attention and bring people 
into the town. 


Too new-fangled and showy. I am for William. I dis- 
trust these go-ahead young men. 

I have said William all along. 


Clearly William is a great craftsman let us choose him. 



We know nothing about him personally. John is a 
young man of devout life. 


What has that to do with it? Besides, his manners are 
abominable. I give my voice for William. 

I like John's plan we haven't seen William's. 


John's plan looks good from the musician's point of 


I must not influence you but I admit I am greatly im- 
pressed by William of Sens. . . . Father Gervase, how 
does the voting stand? 

Five have spoken for John and five for William. 

This is where I interfere. 

[He goes up into the Chapter-House. 

Somebody has not voted. Who is it? 

[Everybody stares round at ERNULPHUS. 


It is Father Ernulphus. 

He has been asleep all the time. 

[GABRIEL stands behind ERNULPHUS. 

He is getting very shaky, poor old soul. 

THEODATUS (loudly in ERNULPHUS' ear) 
Father Ernulphus! 

ERNULPHUS (starting into consciousness) 
Eh? eh? what? 

THEODATUS (shouting in his ear) 
Do you vote for John of Kent or William of Sens? 

GABRIEL (in his other ear) 
William of Sens. 

Eh? Yes, of course. William of Sens. Certainly. 

[He closes his eyes again. 

THEODATUS (vexed) 
He hasn't heard a word. (Loudly) Father Ernulphus! 

ERNULPHUS (suddenly alert) 

You needn't shout. I'm not deaf. I have followed every- 
thing very carefully. I said William of Sens and I mean 
William of Sens. 


[He shuts his eyes tight with an air of finality. 

Really, Father Prior! 

You will never move him now. 

[A pause. 


The vote of the Chapter, then, is for William of Sens. 
If there is no further business, the Chapter is dissolved. 

ALL (rising) 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy 
Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall 
be, world without end. Amen. 

[GABRIEL goes up and stands above. 

PRIOR (as the MONKS begin to file down, left and right) 
Father Gervase, pray inform the architects of this de- 
cision. Thank those that are not chosen for their pains; 
they shall receive their journey-money from the Father 
Treasurer. Ask Master William to come and see me. No 
time must be lost in putting the work in hand, for the 
night cometh wherein no man can work. 

[Exit GERVASE, right, as the PRIOR follows the MONKS 

IT. Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, 
and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord God of 

IJT. No man, having put his hand to the plough, and 
looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God. 
IF. There is nothing better than that a man should re- 
joice in his own works, for that is his portion. 
IJT. Ascribe ye greatness unto our God; He is the Rock, 
His work is perfect. 

[Re-enter GERVASE, right, with JOHN, HENRY and 

JOHN (indignantly to WILLIAM) 

Trickery, Master William, sheer trickery and cheating. 
You know well enough that you cannot restore a single 
stone of it 

HENRY (with equal indignation) 
You will tell any lie in order to get the job. You 
promise economy, and you will spend their money like 
water. It is treacherous- it is dishonest 


You would not only promise, you would do them a dis- 
honest piece of work. That is treachery, if you like, 
Master Henry. 

[HENRY bounces down the steps with an angry excla- 


But why must you flatter and fawn on them? Why 
pander to all their ridiculous foibles? Cannot you tell 
them the truth as I do and let the best man win? 


The trouble with you, my lad, is want of tact. You can 
handle stone, but you can't handle men. You must learn 
to humour fools if you want to get anything done. 

You stinking fox! 

[JOHN joins HENRY, and they go off muttering to- 
gether, sinking their differences in their common 

GERVASE (troubled) 
Master William, is it true, what they say? 


Listen to me, young man. At my age one learns that 
sometimes one has to damn one's soul for the sake of 
the work. Trust me, God shall have a choir fit for His 
service. Does anything else really matter? 

[He and GERVASE follow the others out. 

During the singing of the following Interlude, the 
sceneshifters set the stage to represent the site of the 
choir. The other three ANGELS go up and stand above 
with GABRIEL. 

Every carpenter and workmaster that laboureth night 
and day, and they that give themselves to counterfeit 
imagery, and watch to finish a work; 
The smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the 
iron work, he setteth his mind to finish his work, and 
watcheth to polish it perfectly. 


So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the 

wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set at 

his work, and maketh all his work by number. 

All these trust to their hands, and every one is wise in 

his work. 

Without these cannot a city be inhabited, and they shall 

not dwell where they will nor go up and down; 

They shall not be sought for in public council, nor sit 

high in the congregation; 

But they will maintain the state of the world, and all 

their desire is in the work of their craft. 


About two years have passed since the previous scene. 
WORKMEN go in and out, fetching tools and barrows 
from door, lefty which appears to lead to some kind of 
office or store-room, and carrying out, right, blocks 
of dressed stone on hand-barrows, etc. About half a 
dozen LAY BROTHERS and WORKMEN remain to work 
on the stage. A general impression of bustle and move- 
ment is accentuated by the entrance of a number 
of respectably dressed PILGRIMS, chattering like jack- 
daws, right. 

PILGRIMS (they enter by twos and threes, gape vaguely 

about and pass on and out by way of the steps) 
Beautiful, beautiful; and everything in such good taste. 
... I wonder what it costs to keep the shrine going in 
candles. . . . Two years they've been building now 
goodness knows how long it's going to take. . . . 
Dickon, you bad boy, leave that saw alone. . . . Who 
did you say the architect was? Wilfrid somebody? . . . 
My poor, dear husband such a sad sufferer I was de- 
termined to make the pilgrimage. . . . No doubt, it 
will be all very fine when it's finished, but I don't 
think it's a patch on Lincoln. . . . Shocking bad din- 
ners they give you at the "Lamb" you'd better come 
and have a bite with us. ... I beg your pardon, 

madam, was that your foot? Ah, the poor, dear, 
martyred Archbishop! Such a charming man. I saw 
him when he came back from Franceyes, really, he 
was as close to me as I am to you. . . . Have you heard 
the one about the three fat friars and the tinker's 
widow? Well, there were three begging friars. ... So 
I said to her, "Very well, you may take your wages and 
go/' ... It came to me as I was kneeling there that 
God would most surely have pity upon my sister. . . . 
I must say it comes out more expensive than I'd reck- 
oned for. And I was abominably cheated that night we 
lay at Rochester. . . . The King must be a very 
naughty man to have killed the poor Archbishop. . . . 
There! I told you it was only putting ideas into the 
child's head, . . . Bad business, that fire, and if you 
ask me, I don't believe the true story ever came out. 
. . . Yes, darling, ever so sorry barefoot in a white 
sheet. . . . Indeed, I have a very great devotion to St. 
Thomas. . . . This Purbeck marble's all the rage, but I 
don't care about it myself . . . etc., etc. 

[They trail away, still chattering. During the con- 
fusion, GERVASE and WILLIAM have made their en- 
trances, right 3 GERVASE crossing the stage and vanish- 
ing into doorway, left, while WILLIAM sits at a trestle- 
table, centre, and waits resignedly for his workshop to 
get clear. As the stage empties, the ANGELS come down 
again and take up their former positions. 


Two years of toil are passed; what shall I write 
About this architect? 

A schedule here, 

Long as my sword, crammed full of deadly sins; 
Jugglings with truth, and gross lusts of the body, 
Drink, drabbing, swearing; slothfulness in prayer; 
With a devouring, insolent ambition 
That challenges disaster. 


These are debts; 
What shall I set upon the credit side? 


Six columns, and their aisles, with covering vaults 
From wall to arcading, and from thence again 
To the centre, with the keystones locking them, 
All well and truly laid without a fault. 

No sum of prayer to balance the account? 

Ask Raphael, for prayers are in his charge. 


Come, Raphael, speak; or is thy censer cold? 
Canst thou indeed find any grace in William 
The builder-up of Canterbury? 



[He swings his censer, which gives out a cloud of 

Behold, he prayeth; not with the lips alone, 
But with the hand and with the cunning brain 
Men worship the Eternal Architect. 
So, when the mouth is dumb, the work shall speak 
And save the workman. True as mason's rule 
And line can make them, the shafted columns rise 
Singing like music; and by day and night 
The unsleeping arches with perpetual voice 
Proclaim in Heaven, to labour is to pray, 

Glory to God, that made the Firmamentl 

[Enter GERVASE, left. 


Here are the letters for you to sign, Master William, 
These to Caen, about the next shipment of stone; these 
to Dover, with instructions for the unloading and car- 
riage. I have mentioned the matter of the damaged 
crane and told them it must be made good at their own 

[Hands pen and inkhorn. 


Thanks, Father Gervase. 
[Signs letters. 



This is the invoice for the oak roofing-beams. And 
there is an enclosure I can't quite understand. Some- 
thing about the commission. 

WILLIAM (hastily) 

That has no business to be there. Idiots! It refers to a 
private transaction. Give it to me. I will deal with it 
myself. Anything more? 

[Taking paper and pocketing it. 


Do you mind looking at this consignment note? We 
seem to be fifty scaffold-poles short; but I will have 
them checked again. 


Good. I can trust you to get it put in order. I don't 
know what we should have done these two years with- 
out your vigilant eye and skilful pen. 


I wish I could do more to help. But my hands are no 
good for anything but writing. I should have loved to 
take a more active part in the work. (Smiling.) I must 
be content to be the man with only one talent, and make 
it go as far as I can. 

[Enter HUBERT, right. 



If everyone would make good use of his own talent and 
let others do the same, the world would move faster. 
Well, Brother Hubert, what's the trouble? 


Well, sir, if you'd kindly take a look at this here last lot 
of lime (presenting specimens of lime and mortar on a 
shovel). If lime you can call it. What they've done to it 
I don't know, but it don't seem to have no body in it as 
you might say. It don't bind right You should hear 
what my lads has to say about it, 

Yes. Poor slack stuff. Where did this come from? 


From Jocelyn's. You remember, the Father Treasurer 
wanted the order given to them. He said Thomas Clay's 
price was excessive. 


I wish the Father Treasurer would allow me to know 
my own job. Tell him no, don't tell him anything, 
Order in a fresh lot from Thomas Clay's as before, in- 
structing him to charge it up at Jocelyn's price and send 
me a private note of the difference. We can adjust it on 
that timber account. Do you understand? If these timber 
merchants are knaves enough to offer me a five per cent 
commission for giving them the contract and Father 
Stephen is fool enough to grudge a few pounds extra for 


first-class material, all right. We play off the knave 
against the fool, get what we want, and save argument. 


Ay, that's so. What the Father Treasurer don't see 
won't worry him. 

But is it honest? 


All I know is, this here lime ain't honest. Prior Wibert, 
him as built the Water-Tower, wouldn't never have 
asked his masons to put up with cheap rubbish like this 


No, of course it's not honest. And it's not exactly safe. 
That is, it's liable to misconstruction, if proclaimed 
upon the housetops. But the Lord commended the un- 
just steward. 


You can't make bricks without straw, nor yet mortar 
without lime. And if Prior Wibert, rest his soul, was 
alive, he'd say the same. 


Cheer up, little churchman. Take thy bill and sit down 
quickly and write fifty. Nobody's robbing the Church. 

[Exit GERVASE, left, still a trifle unhappy about it. 
H'm. Unfortunate. He'll lie awake all night wrestling 


with his conscience, and probably let the whole thing 
out to the Father Treasurer. Can't be helped. Sufficient 
for the day. . . . How about the new arch? D'you think 
she's settled in? I'd like to get those supports out today. 


Been over every inch of her, sir, and I think she'll do. 
We're getting the tackle up now. 


Let me know when you're ready; I don't want anything 
started till I come. What do you think of the plan for 
the roof and clerestory? 


Grand, sir, grand. I only wish Prior Wibert, good man, 
was alive to see it. Always a man for new ideas, was 
Prior Wibert. Ah! He'd have loved that tall shafting 
and the way the cross-ribbing is made to carry the span. 
"Mark my words, Hubert," he used to say to me, "the 
arch is the secret of building. We ain't half learned yet," 
he'd say, "what the arch can carry when it's put to it." 


He was right, there. But we're finding out. We're find- 
ing out every day. Greece never guessed it; Rome only 
half understood it; but our sons will know in the years 
to come. (With rising excitement.) We all have our 
dreams, Hubert. Churches we shall never live to see. 
Arch shouldering arch, shaft, vault and keystone, win- 
dow and arcading, higher and wider and lighter, lifting 


roof, tower, spire, into the vault of heaven columns 
slender as lily-stalks -walls only a framework for the 
traceries living fountains of stone 


That's so, Master, that's so. That's the way to build. 
Each stone carrying his neighbour's burden, as you 
might say. 


A triumph of balance, eh, Hubert? A delicate adjust- 
ment of interlocking stresses. Look! there was an idea 
came into my head last night. 

[He sketches on a block of stone. 
Enter STEPHEN and MARTIN, right. 


Well, I must say, it's rather inconsiderate. Still, we 
mustn't let the opportunity slip. 


Certainly not; rich benefactors have to be humoured. 
Nobody knows that better than he does. Will you tackle 

If you like. Er Master William! 

What can I do for you, Father Treasurer? 



Forgive me for interrupting you I know you're very 
busy, but the fact is, we have a visitor 

Rather an important visitor. 

The Lady Ursula de Warbois 

[Enter THEODATUS, right. He has his sleeves tucked 
up, and a coarse apron over his habit, and carries a 


We had been hoping she would come 

She has just arrived and asked to see the Father Prior. 


She is with him now. Father Theodatus, have you 
heard? The Lady Ursula is with the Father Prior! 


[He goes across to speak to one of the WORKMEN. 


Come, sirs. All this excitement is scarcely becoming to 
your cloth. Is the lady young and beautiful? And what 
is she doing with the Father Prior, or he with her? 

[WORKMEN snigger. 


Master William! Pray control your tongue. 

There! you see you have shocked Father Theodatus. 


The Lady Ursula is the widow of an exceedingly 
wealthy knight. 


She has come to reside in Canterbury; and has several 
times expressed interest in the work. Today she has 
come and wants to see over the new choir 


If she is pleased with what she sees, she will probably 
be good for a handsome subscription. 


Oh, very well. Take her where you like. Better stand 
clear of the new arch, though. We're going to get the 
supports out, and it might come down. You never 
know eh, Hubert? 

That's right. You never know. 


Yes but the point is, she particularly wants to meet the 
architect and be shown round personally. 



She wants to see the plans, and have everything ex- 
plained to her* 


T'cha! women always want explanations. But they 
never listen, and wouldn't understand a word if they 
did. I've no use for women not in working hours. 

THEODATUS (gloomily) 
The curse came by a woman. 

Well if it comes to that, so did you, Father Theodatus. 


That's right. Women are a curse but we can't get into 
the world, nor on in the world without 'em. 


Well, Master William, I'm sure you will oblige her. 
People always like to talk to the architect. The human 1 
touch, you know. It's always good publicity. 


Oh, very well, I suppose one must make one's self a 
martyr to publicity. Go and keep an eye on the lads, 
Hubert; I'll come as soon as I'm free. 

[Going; STEPHEN and MARTIN offer to accompany 


No, thanks. I can find my own way. Don't you run your 
heads into temptation. Sed libera nos a malo deliver us 
from the apple and all its consequences. 

[Exit, right, with HUBERT. 

Dear me! I hope he will behave with discretion. 


Never fear. He can bridle his tongue when he likes. He 
is a politic man. Remember how he persuaded us into 
the expense of re-building. 


Yes we have had some experience of his policy. Well- 
he wheedled money out of us; let him now wheedle it 
out of the Lady Ursula. 


At any rate, he is a first-class workman. He gives us good 
value for our money. 


Does he? I hope he does. Sometimes I have my doubts. 
From something one of the carriers let fall the other 
day, I am inclined to suspect him of some irregu- 


Oh, surely not! The accounts all go through your hands 
and the correspondence through those of Father Ger- 


Father Gervase? Do you think a crafty old fox like that 
hasn't the wit to hoodwink a young and innocent 
churchman like Father Gervase? Is he in the office, by 
the way? I am inclined to give him a caution. (Calling 
left.) Father Gervase! 

GERVASE (emerging, left, with letters) 
Yes, Father Stephen? 


Tell me; since you have been handling Master Wil- 
liam's letters, have you ever had any reason to suspect 
any financial irregularities? 

GERVASE (taken aback) 
Financial irregularities? 


Tampering with the estimates? Fudging the accounts? 
Pocketing commissions and that sort of thing? Doing 
little deals on the side? 

GERVASE (recovering himself; with confidence) 
I am quite positive, Father Stephen, that Master Wil- 
liam has never cheated the Church of a single penny, 
and never would. He thinks of nothing, lives for noth- 
ing, but the integrity of his work. If you knew him as 
well as I do, working with him these two years, you 
would be sure of that. 


I am glad to hear it. But keep your eyes open. I have 
heard stories, and I am not altogether satisfied. 


Would it not be better to speak openly to Master Wil- 
liam himself? 


Of course it would; but they are afraid to. Why? Be- 
cause the man has managed to get the ear of the Father 
Prior and because they don't want him to throw up 
the job in the middle and because, having once put 
their hands to dirty tools, they don't know how to draw 
back. (To STEPHEN and MARTIN) No man can serve God 
and mammon. God's House should be built with prayer. 
You are trying to build it with worldly wisdom and 
worldly lucre. Look at all those pilgrims! How many of 
them have clean hands and pure hearts? 

We cannot see into their hearts. 


Have you listened to their talk? One in ten may be 
sincere. The rest are idle men and gadding women, 
making pilgrimage an excuse for a holiday trip com- 
pounding for old sins by committing new ones. All they 
come for is to drink and gossip in alehouses, tell each 
other dirty stories, pick up loose companions, waste 
their own time and other people's, and gabble through 


a few perfunctory prayers at top speed, so as to have 
more time for sight-seeing. 

Are you not a little uncharitable? 


Most of them are very worthy people. And after all, we 
can't do without their money. 


If you had faith, you could. You degrade the Church by 
these vulgar and dubious methods of publicity. 


Really, Father Theodatus! This is monstrous. The 
Father Prior himself entrusted me with the publicity 
side of the appeal. I have taken great pains to get these 
pilgrimages properly advertised. And this is my rewardl 


Brethren! brethren! All the workmen are listening to 

[Enter WILLIAM, right, with URSULA. 

Let them listen! 

I do not care who hears me! 



Pray, madam, mind your head the doorway is rather 
low. One step down. Allow me. This is just a little 
corner of our workshop, where Walter! Hugh! Simon! 
Is nobody doing any work today? Do you take it for the 
Feast of St. Lazybones? (The WORKMEN hurriedly return 
to their tasks.} Walter that corner is out of true. And 
here, you! Is that the way to treat your tools? ... I 
beg your pardon, madam. The moment my back is 
turned, everything seems to come to a standstill. 


No wonder. Without the heart, how can the limbs do 
their office? You are the heart of the undertaking. 

WILLIAM (formally) 

It is very good of you to say so. I think you know Father 
Stephen, the Treasurer? Father Martin, the Guest- 
Brother? Father Theodatus, the Sacristan? And Father 
Gervase, who is Clerk and Historian to the Chapter, 
and is good enough to deal with my correspondence in 
his spare time. (To GERVASE) Have those letters gone? 

I am just taking them to the messenger. 

[Exit GERVASE, right. 

And what, madam, do you think of our Cathedral? 



I think it must be the most beautiful in the world. And 
how glorious the new choir will be when it is finished! 
Master William has described it all to me and has prom- 
ised to show me all his plans and drawings. That was a 
promise, was it not, Master William? 

Certainly~if you are really interested. 


Of course I am interested. I am glad I have come to live 
in Canterbury. It will be so exciting to watch the work 
going on from day to day. A widow needs an interest in 
life. And it will be a great comfort to live under the 
protection of blessed St. Thomas. 


Thousands of the suffering and bereaved have already 
found healing and consolation by his benign interven- 
tion. Only a few weeks ago, out of a large congregation 
of worshippers who attended a special service 

[Bell begins to ring, MONKS enter, right, and file 
across the stage and down the steps. WORKMEN lay 
down their tools and go out, right, with dinner- 

That is the bell for nones. 

[Exit down steps. 

I will tell you presently about the special service* 

[Exeunt STEPHEN and MARTIN down steps. 


Do you propose to attend nones? The lower part of the 
nave is available for the laity* 

No; I propose to see those drawings of yours. 


I do not think you came here to see architectural 


I came to see the architect. (Pause.) Did you realise that 
this was not the first time we had met? 


I realised it perfectly. I had the honour to pick up your 
glove yesterday in the market-place. 

I was much indebted to you for the courtesy. 


I was much indebted to you for the opportunity. I am 
an opportunist. So, I fancy, are you. We have that much 
in common. 


Is that an impertinence, I wonder? 


I ought to be offended with you. 


If you are wise, you will be. Let us be plain. 
The first time our eyes met, we knew one another 
As fire knows tinder. You have seen what havoc 
Fire works. Let be. 

I do not fear the fire. 


My fire should be a lamp to light the world, 
Fed with my life, consuming only me; 
Will you not learn that it is perilous 
To play with fire? That it is death to come 
Between the man and the work? In one man's life 
Is room for one love and no moreone love; 
I am in love with a dream. 


Tell me your dreams 

Sitting by the fire, seeing pictures in the fire, 
Visions and dreams. 


Your old men shall dream dreams 
And your young men see visions but not your women. 
What use have women for the dreams of a man 
Save to destroy them? What does a woman know 
Of the love of knowledge, passing the love of women? 
The passion of making, beside which love's little passion 
Shows brittle as a bubble? To raise up beauty from 


Like the splendour of resurrection; to see the stone 
Knit unto stone and growing, as in the womb 
Bone grows to bone; to build a world out of nothing 
That is my dream; that is the craftsman's dream, 
The power and the glory, the kingdom of God and 


Of man, never of woman. Women create 
Passively, borne on a wind of lust, for a whim, 
At the caprice of a man, in a smile, in a spasm 
Of the flesh; we, with the will, with the blood, with the 


All the desire of the soul, the intent of the mind. 
Now do you understand what my dreams are 
And why they are not for you? 


I understand. 

Knowledge and work knowledge is given to man 
And not to woman; and the glory of work 
To man and not to woman. But by whom 
Came either work or knowledge into the world? 


Not by the man. God said, "Ye shall not know; 

Knowledge is death." And Adam was afraid. 

But Eve, careless of peril, careless of death. 

Hearing the promise, "Ye shall be as gods/* 

Seized knowledge for herself, and for the man, 

And all the sons of men; knowledge, like God; 

Power to create, like God; and, unlike God, 

Courage to die. And the reward for her 

Was sorrow; but for Adam the reward 

Was work of which he now contrives to boast 

As his peculiar glory, and in one breath 

Denies it to the woman and blames her for it, 

Winning the toss both ways. My simple Adam, 

It is too late to scare woman with risks 

And perils woman, that for one splendid risk 

Changed the security of Paradise, 

Broke up the loom and pattern of creation, 

Let in man's dream on the world, and snatched the torch 

Of knowledge from the jealous hand of God 

So that the fire runs in man's blood for ever. 

WILLIAM (carried away) 
So that she runs like fire in a man's blood 
For ever! Take what thou wilt the risk, the sorrow, 
The fire, the dream and in the dream's end, death. 


Thus Eve cast down the gauntlet in God's face: 
"My will for Thine; man's purpose against God's; 


Slay me and slay the man, slay all my seed, 
But let man's knowledge and man's work go on." 


Thus God took up the gauntlet in Eve's face. 
Having, like man, courage to look on death: 
"My Son for thy sons, and God's blood for man's; 
Crucify God, but let the work go on." 

By man came sin. 


O felix culpa, quae 
Talis et tanti meruit Redemptoris! 

HUBERT (off) 
Master William! Master William! 


There! that means work. You see what happens when 
one starts this kind of thing. Go now. They are coming 
out of church. Quickly or we shall have Father Martin 
and the special service all over again. I will come to 
your lodging after supper. 

URSULA (on the steps) 
Bringing your dreams with you. 

[Exit down steps. Enter HUBERT, right. 

Master! The arch is ready when you are. 


I am coming. Work, Hubert, work. Sometimes one per- 
suades one f s self that it all means something to some- 


Do you think the gracious lady will be moved to con- 
tribute to the building fund? 


H'm. I had forgotten that aspect of the matter. Yes I 
shouldn't be surprised if she did. 

The blessed saints be praised for it. 

I wonderl 

[Exeunt WILLIAM and HUBERT, right. 

THE YOUNG CHERUB (suddenly) 

Why did God create mankind in two different sorts, if 
it makes so much trouble? 

[The ANGELS are inexpressibly shocked. 

Hush! you mustn't ask Why. 

Angels never ask Why. 

Only men ask Why, 



And you see what happened to them, just for asking 


Do you want to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, like 
Adam and Eve? 

And find Michael there, with his big sword? 


And put our Master to the trouble and pain of another 


Or start another war, like that lost brother whom we 
must not name? 

Criticising God's creation! I never heard of such a thing! 


Shall we that are but worms, but silk-worms, but glow- 
worms, chide God that He hath made slow-worms, and 
other venomous creeping things? 
Shall we that are all discord, quarrel the harmony of His 
creation or His providence? 

Can an apothecary make a sovereign treacle of vipers 
and other poisons, and cannot God admit offences and 
scandals into His physic? 
As soon as He had made light (which was His first 


creature) He took pleasure in it; He said it was good; 
He was glad of it; glad of the sea, glad of the earth, 
glad of the sun, and moon, and stars, and He said of 
everyone. It is good* 



The scene is as before; two more years have passed; 
WALTER, HUGH and GEOFFREY, lay zvorkmen, are en- 
gaged in polishing marble rather up-stage. 

[Enter SIMON, right, and crosses to door, left. 

SIMON (sings) 
The animals went in two by two, 

Hey, ho, nonny! 
Said the dog, Bow-wow I said the cat, Mew, mew! 

Spring is the time for love! 

[Exit left. 


Spring, indeed! I wish the spring were here. It hasn't 
stopped raining for three months. 


More like four. We've had vile weather ever since the 
eclipse last September. What a climate! 

I knew that eclipse meant bad luck. 

Well, it's not raining today. 



Bad luck? If we never get worse luck than a bit of bad 
weather, I don't care how many eclipses we have. 


We ain't heard the last of the eclipse yet, mark my 


You and your prophecies! What are you grumbling 
about? Job's going well enough, ain't it? Four years, 
and here we've finished the triforium and the clerestory, 
and the key of the great arch will be put in today. Not 
too bad, in four years. 

[Re-enter SIMON, left, trundling a coil of rope> 
wound on a drum. 


Ah! he's a good worker, is Master William. And a fast 
worker. Knows what he's about. He's the sort of master 
I can do with. Strict, and drives you like the devil, but 
I don't mind that. 


That's right. I respect a master that's a good worker. 
When Master William works, he works. 


And when he plays (with a meaning grin), he plays! 
Him and the Lady Ursulal 

Well, I don't mind that, either. That's their affair. 


Quite right, Hugh. The day for labour and the night 
for sleep. 

(Sings) Two by two they went into the ark, 

Hey, ho, nanny! 

The doors were shut, they were all in the dark, 
Spring is the time for love! 

She's somewhere about the place now. 

Who is? Lady Ursula? 


Yes. Takes a lot of interest. Always putting up a bit o' 
prayer, or coming to see how the job's getting on, or 
calling on the Father Treasurer with a little donation 
to something, 

SIMON (sings) 
But when old Noah opened the door, 

Hey> hOj nonny! 

They all came out by three and four, 
Spring is the time for love! 

[Enter PRIOR and THEODATUS, right. 

It's a wonder the good fathers don't see through it. 



Maybe they do. Maybe it pays them to wink t'other eye. 
Lady Ursula's rich. It don't do to offend rich folks. 

You hear that, Father Prior? 


All the same, mark my words, no good will come of it. 
That eclipse wasn't sent for nothing. 

Ah, come off it. You and your eclipsel 

SIMON (sings) 
Who d'ye think had been playing tricks? 

Heyj ho, nonny! 
They went in two and they came out six, 

Spring is the time for love! 


For shame, my son, for shamel We cannot have these 
lewd songs here. 

[He comes down past SIMON to the steps, with the 

Sorry, Father. 

[He goes out, left. 


So it goes on, Father, day after day- 
Songs in the workshop, sniggering in the dortor, 


Unbecoming gossip among the novices. 

Heads wagged in the market-place, and tales going 


In the alehouse, fingers pointed everywhere 
At William of Sens, the Cathedral architect 
A notorious evil liver, a seducer of women, 
A taker of bribes 

PRIOR (mildly) 
That was not proved, I fancy. 


A cunning liar, that boasts of pulling the wool 
Over the eyes of the fat, innocent monks; 
A man without truth, without shame. It is not respect- 
It is not right. 


You must not say, without truth, 
Lest you should hear the very stones cry out 
Against you. Truth is glorious; but there is one 
Glory of the sun, another of the moon, 
And all the truth of the craftsman is in his craft. 
Where there is truth, there is God; and where there is 

There is God's glory too. 

THEODATUS (sullenly) 

Craft is the word. 
We could do better without William's craft 


In more ways than In one. I would rather have 
A worse-built church with a more virtuous builder. 


Make God the loser for your conscience' sake? 
This is God's House, and if on any pretext 
We give him less than the best, we shall cheat God 
As William never cheated God, nor us. 
He that bestowed the skill and the desire 
To do great work is surely glad to see 
That skill used In His service. 


Skill is not all. 

The kingdom of Heaven is won by righteousness, 
Not skill. He cannot wish His work performed 
Save with clean hands and a pure heart. 


My son, 

Will you not let God manage His own business? 
He was a carpenter, and knows His trade 
Better, perhaps, than we do, having had 
Some centuries of experience; nor will He, 
Like a bad workman, blame the tools wherewith 
He builds His City of Zion here on earth. 
For God founded His Church, not upon John, 
The loved disciple, that lay so close to His heart 
And knew His mind not upon John, but Peter; 
Peter the liar, Peter the coward, Peter 
The rock, the common man. John was all gold, 


And gold is rare; the work might wait while God 
Ransacked the corners of the earth to find 
Another John; but Peter is the stone 
Whereof the world is made. So stands the Church, 
Stone upon stone, and Christ the corner-stone 
Carved of the same stuff, common flesh and blood, 
With you, and me, and Peter; and He can, 
Being the alchemist's stone, the stone of Solomon, 
Turn stone to gold, and purge the gold itself 
From dross, till all is gold. 


To purge to burn! 

He makes His ministers a flaming fire 
And are not we His ministers? Shall not we 
Lay axe to the rotten root, trunk, branch? destroy, 
Make bonfire of this scandal in the Church 
And burn God's honour clean? 


God is a man, 

And can defend His honour, being full-grown 
In wisdom and in stature. We need not 
Play nursemaid to the Babe of Bethlehem 
To shield Him from the harlot and the thief, 
Or keep those tender, innocent hands from harm 
That bear the sharp nails 1 imprint, and uphold 
The axis of the spheres. He can touch dirt 
Without defilement, for Himself hath said, 
"What I have cleansed, that call not thou uncleau," 


But while His laws are broken in our sight 
Must we stand by, and smile, and still do nothing? 


Do your own work, while yet the daylight lasts. 
Look that it be well done; look not beyond it. 
I charge you, on your holy obedience, 
Set charity as a bridle on your tongue; 
Talk not of William's nor another's faults, 
Unless to God, Who hears but spreads no scandal. 
Of this be sure: who will not have the Gospel 
Shall have the Law; but in God's time, not ours. 

[Enter SIMON fey door, left, carrying a small windlass. 
SIMON (bursting irrepressibly into song) 

Every bird had found her mate, 

Hey, ho, nonny! 
They all came out by seven and eight, 

Spring is the time for love! 

[He sets the windlass down, centre. Enter WILLIAM, 


You are merry, Simon. Is that the rope to rig the travel- 
ling cradle? 

Yes, sir. 


See that every inch of It is well tested before I go up* 
I'm not as young or as light as I was. Good morning. 
Father Prior. Ah! Father Theodatus, you are just the 
man I was looking for. Pray will you help Simon to test 
that rope? It is to hoist me up to the top of the great 
arch, and I have a value for my neck. 

Oh, by all means. 

[Moving up y left. 


Simon is a good lad enough, but I would rather trust 
your vigilance. Young men's minds are apt to run astray. 

[During the following dialogue, THEODATUS takes the 
free end of the rope and begins to wind it off on to the 
windlass. SIMON stands by the drum, so that, as the 
rope is slowly wound off, they can both examine it for 
flaws. They occupy the stage from centre to left. 


Young men are not alone in that, Master William. The 
talk of the town comes to our ears sometimes, dull- 
witted old churchmen though we be. It seems that even 
a master architect may find interests outside his work. 

Outside his working hours, Father Prior. 



I quite appreciate that. My dear son, as your father in 
God I might find many things to say to you. * . . 


But as a man of the world you doubt whether I should 
listen. It is a rare virtue to refrain even from good 


Then I will speak only as a man of the world and urge 
the value of discretion. 

Father Theodatus would say, of hypocrisy. 


Father Theodatus is not your employer. The Church is 
your employer, and it is my duty to speak for the 


Very well. As my employer, to use your own blunt term, 
what fault have you to find with my private amuse- 


This; that instead of attending to their work, your 
workmen waste their time in gossip and backbiting 
about you. If you choose to be damned, you must; if 
you prefer to make a death-bed repentance, you may; 
but if an idle workman does an unsound job now, no 

repentance of yours will prevent it from bringing down 
the church some day or other. 

WILLIAM (after a pause) 

You are quite right. I congratulate you. You have found 
the one argument to which I am bound to listen. Were 
you a diplomat before you were a churchman? 


[Exit, right. 

WILLIAM (looking after him) 

Or a soldier. The old man's a hard hitter and knows 
where to plant his blows. (He goes upj back, to overlook 
the work of WALTER and GEOFFREY, speaking to THEO 
DATUS and SIMON as he goes): Test it with the eye and 
the hand don't trust to either alone. 


Are there no fires in Heaven, that every man 
With his own hand, upon the anvil of sin 
Forges the sword of judgment? Gabriel, Raphael, 
There is a sword in the making; look you to it. 

[RAPHAEL goes up and stands near THEODATUS, 
centre, and GABRIEL near SIMON, left. 

T. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding 
the evil and the good. 

IJT. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 
God forbid, 


T. He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the 


IJ?'. And sendeth rain upon the just and unjust. 

[Enter URSULA, right. 


WILLIAM (turning quickly and coming to meet her) 
Ah! You have come at a very good moment. 

[He leads her forward to the steps. 

SIMON (watching them with interest) 
Oho! look at that! 

We are just about to put in the key of the great arch. 

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity! 


If you will stand here presently and watch, you will see 
me fly up to the top of the scaffold in a machine of my 
own devising and down again, like blessed St. Paul in 
a basket! 

THEODATUS (hastily reciting with averted eyes) 
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis; 
Sancta Dei genetrix, ora pro nobis; 
Sancta Virgo virginum, ora pro nobis. 

[RAPHAEL sets his censer gently swinging. 


How amusing! I hope it is safe. 

SIMON (over his shoulder to GEOFFREY) 
More headaches for Father Martin! He don't like these 
goings-on. Says they look bad, and shock influential 


Never fear for that. But, hark'ee we're in disgrace 
with the Prior. 


Mater castissima, ora pro nobis; 
Mater inviolata, ora pro nobis; 
Mater intemerata, ora pro nobis. 

Oh! I ought not to have come. 

That was my fault. I asked you. I wanted you here* 

Take care, Simon! There is a flaw in the rope. 

[SIMON, with his eyes on WILLIAM and URSULA, pays 
no attention. 

SIMON (sings) 
The cat, the rat, the sow, the hen, 

Hey, ho, nonny! 

They all came out by nine and ten, 
Spring is the time for love! 

[The rope runs through his heedless fingers. GABRIEL 
makes a despairing gesture, and looks across at 
RAPHAEL. The scandalised THEODATUS continues to 
pray with his eyes tight shut 


Virgo veneranda, ora pro nobis; 
Virgo praedlcanda, ora pro nobis; 
Virgo potens, ora pro nobis. 


What does the Prior complain of? Scandal in the 

Something like that. 


Vas honorabile, ora pro nobis; 
Vas insigne devotionis, ora pro nobis; 
Rosa mystica, ora pro nobis. 

Take care, Theodatus! There is a flaw in the rope. 


Tunis Davidica, ora pro nobis; 
Tunis eburnea, ora pro nobis; 
Domus aurea, ora pro nobis. 

[RAPHAEL flings away the censer, which rolls clanging 
down the steps. The rope, flaw and all, is wound off. 



At least he cannot say that you think more of me than 
o your work. 

No, he has not said that. 

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis 

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, 

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. 

[The rope is now all wound off. 

He will not take the work away from you? 


He is too shrewd for that. Besides, God would not let 
him; He has put me here and will keep me here, Prior 
or no Prior. 

WORKMAN (putting his head in at the door, below} 
Master Hubert says, is that rope ready? 

Here you are, mate. 

[He picks up the windlass and takes it down to 
WORKMAN, who carries it out. 


Bo we presume too much upon God's mercy? 


We are the master-craftsmen, God and I 
We understand one another. None, as I can, 
Can creep under the ribs of God, and feel 
His heart beat through those Six Days of Creation; 
Enormous days of slowly turning lights 
Streaking the yet unseasoned firmament; 
Giant days, Titan days, yet all too short 
To hold the joy of making. God caught His breath 
To see the poles of the world stand up through chaos; 
And when He sent it forth, the great winds blew, 
Carrying the clouds. And then He made the trees 
For winds to rustle through oak, poplar, cedar, 
Hawthorn and elm, each with its separate motion 
And with His delicate fingers painted the flowers, 
Numberless numberless! why make so many 
But that He loved the work, as I love mine, 
And saw that it was good, as I see mine? 
The supple, swift mechanics of the serpent, 
The beautiful, furred beasts, and curious fish 
With golden eyes and quaintly-laced thin bones, 
And whales like mountains loud with spurting springs, 
Dragons and monsters in strange shapes, to make 
His angels laugh with Him; when He saw those 
God sang for joy, and formed the birds to sing. 
And lastly, since all Heaven was not enough 
To share that triumph, He made His masterpiece, 


Man, that like God can call beauty from dust, 

Order from chaos, and create new worlds 

To praise their maker. Oh, but in making man 

God over-reached Himself and gave away 

His Godhead. He must now depend on man 

For what man's brain, creative and divine 

Can give Him. Man stands equal with Him now, 

Partner and rival. Say God needs a church, 

As here in Canterbury and say He calls together 

By miracle stone, wood and metal, builds 

A church of sorts; my church He cannot make 

Another, but not that. This church is mine 

And none but I, not even God, can build it. 

Me hath He made vice-gerent of Himself, 

And were I lost, something unique were lost 

Irreparably; my heart, my blood, my brain 

Are in the stone; God's crown of matchless works 

Is not complete without my stone, my jewel, 

Creation's nonpareil. 


Hush! God will hear you 
The priests say He is jealous. Tempt Him not 
Lest He should smite and slay. 


He will not dare; 
He knows that I am indispensable 
To His work here; and for the work's sake, He, 
Cherishing, as good masons do, His tools, 

Will keep me safe. When the last stone is laid 
Then may He use me as He will; I care not; 
The work is all; when that is done, good night 
My life till then is paramount with God. 


You make me shake to hear you. Blasphemy! blas- 


Sound sense. Fear nothing. I must leave you now; 
The work waits for me, and that must not be; 
Idleness is the only sin. Like God 
I must be doing in my little world, 
Lest, lacking me, the moon and stars should fail. 

[He goes out down the steps. 

URSULA (watching him go) 
I am afraid; have mercy on him, Christ! 

Draw thy sword, Michael; the hour is come. 

[MICHAEL follows WILLIAM out, with his sword drawn 
in his hand. 

JT. Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but 
lost that build it. 

IJT. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh 
but in vain. 

JT. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and re- 
bukes are fallen upon me. 

1^. For Thou art great and doest wondrous things; 
Thou art God alone. 

[During the singing of these versides, the three re- 
maining ANGELS stand side by side at the top of the 
steps, with URSULA below them. Now they go up and 
stand on the plinth at the back of the stage, RAPHAEL 
and GABRIEL to right and left, with CASSIEL centre. 


The Lord is known to execute judgment; the ungodly is 
trapped in the work of his own hands. 
For he hath said in his heart, Tush, I shall never be 
cast down; there shall no harm happen unto me. 
The snares of death compassed me round about, and 
the pains of hell gat hold upon me. 
I shall find trouble and heaviness, and I will call upon 
the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver 
my soul. 

[The stage gradually fills with MONKS and WORKMEN; 
among them is a YOUNG BOY. 


This is a brave day . . . the great arch finished . . . 
See, they are making ready to drop in the keystone . . . 
It is wonderful how well Master William's machines 
work they have halved the labour of building . . . 
there's old Hubert hell be a proud man today . . . 
Laus Deo! our new choir will be ready for us within 
the year . . . There it goes! No, they're waiting for 


something . . . They're waiting for the architect . . . 
There he is, slung half-way up in the travelling cradle 
. . Can't you see? Come on, lad, up on my shoulder 
. . . There's the keystone slung aloft on the crane . . . 
Hurray! Master William's up nowjust getting to 
the top of the scaffolding . . . Get ready to cheer, 
boys. . . . 

THE YOUNG BOY (from his perch on the workman's 

shoulder^ shrilly) 
Oh, look! look at the angel the terrible angel! 

What's that? An angel? What? Where? Nonsense! 

High on the scaffold, with the drawn sword in his handl 

Mother of God! 

[She falls upon the steps. 

A shout from the stage is succeeded by a heavy crash 
without from the far end of the building. Men run in, 


He's fallen . . . Master William's down . . . He's 
killed . . * fifty feet at least . . . His foot slipped . . . 
No, the rope broke . . What's happened? . . . God 
have mercy on us! ... Run for help! . . . Blessed 
Mary, pray for us! ... Send for the Prior . . . Fetch 
a chirurgeon . . . The devil is abroad . . . No, it was 


an angel . . . Where's that boy who saw the angel? 
. . . Here, the lady's fainted give us a hand here to 
carry her in ... Come along, let's see what's hap 
pened . . . 

[There is a general rush down the steps. 

URSULA (to the men who are supporting her) 
Take me with you. (But she is unable to stand.) No- 
leave me! Run and bring me word. 

[They leave her crouched on the steps and run out. 
The three ANGELS come down and follow the crowd 
out. Nobody is left but THEODATUS, SIMON and 


The rope! God forgive me I was talking and laughing. 
Father Theodatus, what have we done? 


The rope! God is avenged. But I did not mean I did 
not think if it had not been for your lewd songs and 
his own behaviour with this woman 

Could You not break me and not him, O God? 

We have killed him among us. 


Out of the deep have I called unto Thee. O Lord, hear 
my voice. 


let Thine ears consider well the voice of my com- 

If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done 

amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? 

For there is mercy with Thee, therefore shalt thou be 


1 look for the Lord, my soul doth wait for Him, in His 
word is my trust. 

My soul fleeth unto the Lord; before the morning 

watch, I say, before the morning watch. 

O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is 

mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption; 

And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins. 

[During the singing of the psalm, the PRIOR has re- 
entered from the lower end y with HUBERT, GERVASE 
and the YOUNG BOY. They mount the steps. 

Father! Father! In pity, tell me is he dead? 

No, my poor child. But sorely maimed. 

He will never be the same man again. 

Let me go to him. 


Presently. The leech is with him now, seeing to his 
hurts. Trust me, you shall see him presently. (He goes 

on up steps and sits, right.) Now, Hubert, I must know 
how all this came to pass. 


My Lord Prior, there is no doubt at all. There was a 
flaw in the rope. Just as the cradle came up to the level 
of the scaffolding, bearing Master William, I saw with 
my eyes the strands spring asunder. I stretched out my 
hands to catch him, but I could not reach. If I could 
have done anything anything! I would gladly have 
given my life. 

So would I, Hubert. 

I am sure you would. 


Such a craftsman! such a craftsman! So kind a master! 
Just, zealous, generous no fault in him at all. 


So faithful a servant of the Church! Who will finish his 
work now? ... He was my friend, too. 


What I should like to know iswho had the testing o' 
that there rope? 

SIMON (flinging himself at the PRIOR'S feet) 
It was I it was my neglect. I have no excuse. I shall 
never forgive myself. 



It was my fault. I was talking to William distracting 
the attention of them all. This is a judgment for our 
sin his and mine. 


True; it was a judgment. Ask this boy here. Did he not 
see the angel thrust him down? 

Yes, child. What is this about an angel? 


It is true. I saw a great angel stand between heaven and 
earthall in gold and scarlet, with a drawn sword. Oh, 
and he had great wings, too. He cut the rope and the 
cradle fell. 

There, you see! it was a divine judgment. 


Divine judgment! The boy's dreaming. It was rank care- 
lessness. Simonwho was at the other end of the rope 
when you tested it? (SIMON looks round at THEODATUS, 
waiting for him to speak.) Speak up, man! Who was it? 

I was there, Theodatus. 


Well, it was I. But I had nothing to do with it. You 
heard what the child said. It was a miracle. 



I think we sometimes make disasters, and then call them 
miraculous judgments. Did you at any moment take 
hand or eye from the rope while you were testing It? 


I cannot remember. (Under the PRIOR'S eye, he aban- 
dons this line of defence.) She was there with William. 
For my soul's sake I could not look at them. I was saying 
my prayers . . . 


Sayin* your prayers! With the master's safety depending 
on you! 


God Himself laid the seal upon my eyes. I was His ap- 
pointed instrument to overthrow the wicked man. 


Think what you say, my son. It is not for us 
To ordain ourselves the ministers of vengeance; 
For it must needs be that offences come, 
But woe unto that man by whom the offence 
Cometh; 'twere better he had not been born. 
This is thy sin: thou hast betrayed the work; 
Thou hast betrayed the Church; thou hast betrayed 
Christ, in the person of His fellow-man. 
What was the prayer wherein thou offer'dst up 
Thy brother's life? 

The Litany of the Virgin. 



Go to the church; repeat it once again, 
Saying at every line: "This was the spear 
With which I pierced the body of the Lord/* 
Then come to me and ask for absolution. 

I will obey. 

[Exit THEODATUS, right. 


For you, my son and daughter, 
You see how sin brings its own suffering; 
Do not despair; God's mercy is very great. (He rises.) 
Thou that hast visions of angels, come with me. 
I am an old man. Let me have thy shoulder. 
So. Thou shalt tell me more about the angel. 

[Exeunt PRIOR and YOUNG BOY, right. 

GERVASE (helping URSULA to her feet) 
Madam, pray do not weep so. He would be sorry to 
see it. I loved him, too. Let us go together to visit him. 


And supposing he can never work again? What comfort 
in this world for him? And what forgiveness for any of 

[Exeunt GERVASE and URSULA, right. 



Well, Simon, you've made a nice mess of it. There, 
there, lad, I can see you're sorry. Don't 'ee lose heart, 
now. It's a bad business, but we must make the best of it. 

Oh, Hubert! 

[Exeunt HUBERT and SIMON, right. 
During the singing of the following hymn, the 
ANGELS return and take up their places as at the begin- 
ning of the play. 


Plebs angelica 
phalanx et archangelica 
principans turma, virtus 

ac potestas 

numina divinaque 
subsellia, Cherubim 
ac Seraphim 

Vos, O Michael 
caeli satrapa, 
Gabrielque vera 
dans verba nuntia, 

Atque Raphael, 
vitae vernula 
transferte nos inter 


Six months have passed since the preceding scene. 
During the singing of the interlude, GERVASE, assisted 
by a LAY-BROTHER, is making up a couch in the centre 
of the stage. Enter, right, MARTIN, carrying a couple of 
large sheepskins. 


They told me you wanted some extra coverings for 
Master William's bed. 


Thank you, brother. Why, this is very kind! Surely 
these are the best fleeces, 


They are usually kept for distinguished visitors. But 
Father Wulfram specially asked that you should have 
them. They will make Master William warm and com- 
fortablesince he has taken this fancy for lying here. 


We are in hopes he may sleep better close to his work. 
He is so restless. Day and night he thinks of nothing 
but the building, and frets to lie helpless and so far 
away. From here he can see the sun shine on the arches 
he has raised; and when he lies wakeful in the early 
dawn it will comfort him to hear the clink of the 


mason's trowel and the carver's hammer heralding in 
the day. 

[The LAY-BROTHER, sets a stool near the head of the 
couch, down-stage, and goes out, right. 


Poor soul! Well, let us praise God for this warm and 
seasonable weather. Now that the summer is come, he 
will take no hurt from his change of lodging. 

[The LAY-BROTHER returns with a jug of water, a 
horn drinking-vessel, and a candlestick, which he places 
on the stool 


May it refresh him, soul and body! But I fear he under- 
takes more than his strength will bear. He has insisted 
today on being carried to view the progress of the roof 
over the Choir and Crosses. It is impossible to move 
him without causing severe pain and then he gives 
orders and excites himself. Indeed, it is too much for 

MARTIN (with some hesitation) 

I suppose nothing would induce him to resign the ap- 


Part him from his work? Oh, no! It would be more 
bitter to him than death. And where should we get 
another like him? 

LAY-BROTHER, right. 


Well, I don't know. It is true he has done magnificent 
work. But frankly, dear brother, a sick man with a 
crippled spine cannot have his eyes here, there and 
everywhere, and during this half-year since his accident 
things have not gone quite so well. 


You know why that is. Some of the brethren do not 
work so loyally for Brother Hubert as they did for him. 


Isn't that natural? Hubert is an excellent craftsman, 
but, after all, he is only an oblate, and a man of no edu- 
cation. Now if Master William had appointed, let us 
say, Father Hilary 


Father Hilary does fine carving very prettily, but he's 
quite out of his depth when it comes to the practical 
side of building. Now, Brother Hubert understands his 
job inside out. 


Of course, but Well, there you are! You can't deny 
that there has been a certain amount of ill-feeling. 

GERVASE (bitterly) 

Jealousy, vanity, hatred, malice and all uncharitable- 
ness! And these are churchmen, vowed to holy obedi- 
ence and humility. 


Beati pauperes spiritu. Beat! mites. 


Amen! (He examines the couch critically and gives a 
punch to the pillows. Re-enter LAY-BROTHER, right, 
with a crucifix in his hand and a large bundle of papers 
under his arm.) Ah, thanks, Brother Robert. (He sets 
the crucifix on the stool with the other things.) Better 
put the papers on that other stool for the moment. 
(LAY-BROTHER puts them on stool, right.) There! I 
think that is the best we can do. 

[Voices and footsteps off, right. 

I think they are bringing our patient in now. 

I hope he is not too much exhausted. 

[Enter, right, WILLIAM, carried by THEODATUS and 


Ugh! ugh! Gently, you fools, gently. Do you want to 
kill me? You've had one good shot at it. Jolt, jolt, like 
a couple of pack-asses. Clumsy idiots. 

[They lay him on the couch, to a running accompani- 
ment of groans and curses. 


I am sorry. Did I hurt you? 


Oh, no! Only jarred me to pieces, that's all. 

GERVASE (arranging pillows) 

Is that a little easier? I'm afraid you have over-tired 
yourself. Are you in great pain? 

Oh, I daresay it'll be worse in Purgatory. 

MARTIN (pouring out water) 
You have been out too long in the hot sun. 

WILLIAM (drinking) 

Thanks. Sorry, Simon. Don't mind me, Father Theoda- 
tus. It's only bad temper. The Prior set you a hard pen- 
ance when he appointed you beast of burden to a sick 



No, indeed. There is nothing I would more gladly do. 
I deserve far more than that for the evil I did you. 


Oh, stop blaming yourself. What's done can't be helped. 
Blame God, or the devil, or whoever looks after these 
things. Where's Hubert? I want him here. Go and fetch 
Brother Hubert, for God's sake, somebody. (Exeunt 
SIMON and THEODATUS, right.) Why haven't my papers 
been brought down? 

GERVASE (bringing stool with papers and setting it by 

the couch up-stage) 
They are all here. I will put them handy for you. 

Will you not rest a little first? 


No, I will not. Leave me alone, can't you? Gervase, find 
me the measurements for those corbels. They've got 
them all wrong, as I knew they would. (Enter HUBERT, 
right.) Just because I'm not there to stand over them 
all the time Oh, Hubert, come and look at this. What 
did I tell you? I knew it was not my measurements that 
were wrong. Can't you remember anything you're told? 


I am sure, sir, I gave Father Hilary the measurements 
exactly as you gave them to me. But he would have it as 
his own way was the right one, and he told the men 
under him 


Father Hilary! Why should they pay any attention to 
Father Hilary? If I had the use of my limbs I'd give 
them something to remind them who's in charge here. 
But I have to lie helpless as a log while you make a mess 
of it among you. Never mind. Not your fault. Gervase, 
give me pen and ink I'll show you how you can put it 
right. (GERVASE fetches pen and ink from bench, left) 


Lift me up, somebody. (MARTIN lifts him up.} Ugh! 
Now, see here . . . I've got an idea about this. . . . 

[He begins to draw on the plan, but is overcome by 

Dear master, leave it until tomorrow. 


It looks as though I shall have to. All right, Hubert. 
Don't worry. We'll put it straight in the morning. 
(GERVASE and MARTIN take away the drawing materials 
and settle him back on his pillows.) Oh, God! Shall I 
never be able to do anything again? 

[Enter LAY-BROTHER, right, with a bowl of soup and 
a trencher of bread. 

MARTIN (soothingly) 

You work too hard. You have over-tired yourself. You 
will feel better when you have eaten. (GERVASE takes the 
bowl and hands it to WILLIAM, and the LAY-BROTHER 
goes out.) Come away now, Brother Hubert. He must 
be persuaded to rest. (He bustles HUBERT away, right, 
then turns at the door as ERNULPHUS and PAUL pop 
their heads round it.) Here are some visitors for you, 

[Enter PAUL, carrying a bunch of roses and something 
done up in a cabbage-leaf, and ERNULPHUS, obviously 
concealing some offering under his habit. Exeunt 


May we come in? Pax tecum, my son, pax tecum. 

WILLIAM (in a dispirited growl) 
Et cum spiritu tuo. 

And how do you feel this evening? 

WILLIAM (with a wry face, but not unkindly) 

T t t~t-tl 


It's this dreadful hot weather. Very trying. I don't know 
when I remember such a trying June. I'm sure we never 
had such unwholesome heat when I was a boy. I was 
nearly melted away, working in the garden. And the 
greenfly gets worse every year. There never was such a 
year for greenfly. Everything smothered. Still, I've man- 
aged to find a few roses (presenting them), and see! A 
dozen or so of the early strawberries. I thought you 
might like them for your supper. 

WILLIAM (genuinely touched) 
That's very good of you, Father Paul. Are they the first? 


The very first. Nobody else has had anynot even the 
Father Prior. I hope you will find them sweet. Though 


I must say, fruit doesn't seem to have the flavour it had 
in my young days. Still, such as they are, there they are. 

[He puts them on the stool, down-stage. 


I shall enjoy them immensely. I don't know anything 
more refreshing than early strawberries. 


Oho! don't you? I do. (He produces a stout little flask 
from under his habit.) Just you try this. A reviving 
cordial water from our own distillery. Not too fiery, 
and full of healthful properties. Made from herbs, ac- 
cording to our special recipe. 

[Puts it on the stooL 


Thank you; thank you very much. I will drink it to the 
healths of both of you. 


Oh, but it is your own health we must all wish and pray 
for. We do pray for you, of course. Night and morning. 
And remember you at Mass, Eh, Father Ernulphus? 


Always. All of us. So you mustn't lose heart. Oh, dear, 
no. Now we had better run away, or we shall tire you 
out. Good night, my son. May God watch over and re- 
store youl 


Our Lady and all the blessed saints have you in their 

[PAUL and ERNULPHUS trundle amiably off, right. 


Good old soulsl This is what I have come to, Gervase 
to be nursed and coddled, and comforted like a child 
with strawberries. Ah, well. You can tuck me up for the 
night and leave me to my own hobgoblins. 

GERVASE (taking the supper things away and helping 

him to lie down) 
To the holy Angels, rather. There! is that comfortable? 

Yes, thank you, my boy. 

GERVASE (witR a little assumption of authority) 
Do not forget your prayers. 

Very well, Father. 


Benedicat te omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius et 
Spiritus Sanctus. Amen. 



GERVASE (going out, right) 

Sleep in peace. Hubert and I will be at hand if you 
should need anything. 

[Exit, left 

WILLIAM pulls out a rosary, mechanically counts the 
first decade, then tosses it away impatiently. 


O lux beata trinitas, 
Et principalis unitas, 
Jam sol recedit igneus; 
Infunde lumen cordibus. 




Michael, thou watchman of the Lordl What of the 
Watchman, what of the night? 


The morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will 
enquire, enquire ye: return, come. 


Te mane laudum carmine, 
Te deprecamur vesperi, 


Te nostra supplex gloria 
Per cuncta laudet saecula. 

[Enter THEODATUS, right. 


Master William, there is one without would speak with 



The Lady Ursula. 


What is the use of this? I will not see her. It is always 
the same story. She asks to be my wife, my nurse, my 
servant Heaven knows what; to devote her life, make 
reparation and all the rest of it. She shall not do it. I 
will not have people sacrificing themselves for me. It is 
monstrous. It is impossible. Tell her so. 


She says she is here for the last time. She is very un- 
happy. I think you ought I beseech you to let her 

That is a new tune for you to sing, Father Theodatus. 


I have learnt a little charity of late. Let me beg of you. 


Oh, very well. 

[THEODATUS beckons in URSULA and goes out, right. 


William, I have come to say good-bye. I will not trouble 
you any more. Since I am nothing to you now, and the 
world without you is nothing to me, I can but take 
refuge at the Throne of Grace and pray for both of us. 


That is folly, my dear. You, in a convent of nuns! Go 
and be happy, and forget me. 


That is the one thing I cannot do. No other man shall 
have me, if not you. 


I am not a man, Ursula. I am a cripple with a broken 
back a stock, a stone I am nothing. A marriage-bond 
with me would be a bond indeed. Let the dead past 
bury its dead. Our dream is over. 


"Sitting by the fire, seeing pictures in the fire, visions 
and dreams*' do you remember? 


I have no dreams now only nightmares. Nobody can 
bring back my dreams. Some of them even grudge me 
my work here all that is left to me. 



I have broken what I cannot mend. William, tell me 
had I at any time, even for a moment, any part in your 


I hardly know. But once, high in a corner of the 
clerestory, where none but God will look for it, I carved 
an angel with your face. 

Ah, my dear! . . . And you will still have me go? 

Yes; go. I am sorry. Go. 

[URSULA goes without protest 

Father TheodatusI (THEODATUS looks in) Pray conduct 
the Lady Ursula to the convent gate and ask the Father 
Prior if he can come and see me. 


I will, my son. 
[Exit THEODATUS with URSULA, right. 


My days are consumed away like smoke, and my bones 
are burnt up as it were a fire-brand. 
My heart is smitten down and withered like grass, so 
that I forget to eat my bread. 

For the voice of my groaning, my bones will scarce 
cleave to my flesh. 


And that because of Thine indignation and wrath; for 
Thou hast taken me up and cast me down. 

[Enter PRIOR, right. 

You sent for me, my son? 


Yes. I scarcely know why, save that I am in hell and can 
see no way out. 

Is there some sin troubling your conscience? 


All the sins there are or most of them, any way. Not 
that they ever troubled me till I was punished for them. 
But now they rise up round me in the night and stifle 


My son, will you not confess them and receive absolu- 


Confess? if I were to confess them all, you would be 
here till tomorrow. I cannot remember when I last 
made a confession. 

PRIOR (removing the papers from the stool up-stage and 
sitting down) 

In general, then, my son, and as well as you can remem- 
ber them, tell me your sins. 



I do confess to God 

The Father and the Son and Holy Ghost, 
To Mary Mother of God the ever-virgin, 
To the most holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 
To blessed Michael and all his angels 
And the whole company of Heaven, and thee, 
Father, that I have sinned exceedingly, 
In thought, in word, in action, by my fault, 
By my own fault, my own most grievous fault. 
I have lusted as men lust; I have eaten and drunk 
With the drunken; I have given way to wrath, 
Taking God's name in vain, cursing and smiting; 
I have been too much eager after gold 
And the brave things of the world, that take the eye 
And charm the flesh. Now, smitten in my flesh 
My sins have left me, and I see perforce 
How worthless they all were. I am sorry for them. 
Though yet I think I was not the worse craftsman 
Because in me the lusty flesh rejoiced, 
Lending its joy to all I did. Some men, 
Fettering the body, fetter the soul, too, 
So that the iron eats inward; thereof come 
Cruelties, deceits, perversities of malice, 
Strange twistings of the mind, defeats of spirit, 
Whereof I cannot with sincerity 
Accuse myself. But if it be a sin 
To make the flesh the pander to the mind, 


I have sinned deep. Of the means, not of the end, 
I heartily repent. 


Son, they mistake 

Who think God hates those bodies which He made. 
Freedom, not licence, must be given the body, 
For licence preys upon itself and others, 
Devouring freedom's gifts. Have others suffered 
Through lust, wrath, greed of yours? 


I do confess it, 

And ask their pardon and God's pardon for it 
Most humbly. 


In this world as in God's heaven 
There is no power to match humility: 
It breaks the horns of the unicorns, and makes 
The wand of justice flower like Aaron's rod. 
Stoop to repent, and God will stoop to pardon. 

I do repent. 


Indeed I hope thou dost. 
For all these injuries, see thou make amends 
So far as may be done; the irreparable 
God's grace shall turn to good, since only He 


Can lead out triumph from the gates o hell, 
As He hath done by thee, using thy faults 
To further His great ends, by His sole power, 
Not Thine. 


I understand. A year ago 
An idle mason let the chisel slip 
Spoiling the saint he carved. I chid him for it, 
Then took the tool and in that careless stroke 
Saw a new vision, and so wrought it out 
Into a hippogriff. But yet the mason 
Was not the less to blame* So works with us 
The cunning craftsman, God. 


Thou hast a mind 

Apt to receive His meaning. But take heed: 
The mind hath its own snares. What sins of the mind 
Trouble thee now? 

I do not know of any. 


I cannot read the heart; but I am old 
And know how little one need fear the flesh 
In comparison of the mind. Think, I beseech thee, 
If any sin lie yet upon thy conscience. 

Father, I know of none. 



The Tree of Life 

Grew by the Tree of Knowledge; and when Adam 
Ate of the one, this doom was laid upon him 
Never, but by self : knowledge, to taste life. 
Pray now for grace, that thou may'st know and live. 

Wilt thou not give me present absolution? 


Of all thy fleshly faults, humbly confessed, 
Truly repented, I do absolve thee now 
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of 
The Holy Ghost. Amen. 



Good night; 
Peace be with thee. 

And with thy spirit. Good night. 

[Exit PRIOR. WILLIAM tosses restlessly. 

T. The ministers of God are sons of thunder, they are 
falls of water, trampling of horses, and running of 
chariots; and if the voices of these ministers cannot 
overcome thy music, thy security, yet the Angels' 
trumpets will. 
[Distant trumpet. 



Quantus tremor est futurus 
Quando judex est venturus 
Cuncta stricte discussurus. 

[GABRIEL goes up and stands behind WILLIAM. 

Tuba mirum spargens sonum 
Per sepulchra regionum 
Coget ornnes ante thronuin. 

[MICHAEL goes up and stands with drawn sword be- 
fore WILLIAM. 

Liber scriptus proferetur 
In quo totum continetur 
Unde mundus judicetur 

[CASSIEL goes up and stands at the foot of WILLIAM'S 
bed, with the Book open before him. 

Quid sum miser tune dicturus, 
Quern patronem rogaturus, 
Cum vix Justus sit securus? 

[RAPHAEL goes up and stands with his censer at the 
head of WILLIAM'S bed. 


SleepI while these voices wail through aisle and cloister 
Howling on judgment? Cannot Father Ambrose 
Keep his monks quiet let a sick man rest? 
I am confessed, absolved. Why think of judgment? 
My soul is heavy even unto death, 

And something not myself moves in the dusk 
Fearfully. Lights! lights! lights! 

GABRIEL (laying his hand on WILLIAM'S eyes) 

Let there be light! 

[WILLIAM becomes aware of the presence of the 

T. Behold, the angel of the Lord, standing in the way, 

and his sword drawn in his hand. 
1$. And he was afraid, because of the sword of the angel 

of the Lord. 
V . My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee, and I am afraid 

of Thy judgments. 
IJT. God is a righteous judge, strong and patient, and 

God is provoked every day. 


So it is come; first death and then the judgment. 
Thou standest there and holdest up the Book 
Wherein my sins show black. But I am shriven. 
Christ's blood hath washed me white. What then art 


Threats in thy hand, and in thy face a threat 
Sterner than steel and colder? 


I am Michael, 

The sword of God. The edge is turned toward thee: 
Not for those sins whereof thou dost repent, 
Lust, greed, wrath, avarice, the faults of flesh 


Sloughed off with the flesh, but that which feeds the 


The sin that is so much a part of thee 
Thou know'st it not for sin. 


What sin is that? 

Angel, what sins remain? I have envied no man, 
Sought to rob no man of renown or merits, 
Yea, praised all better workmen than myself 
From an ungrudging heart. I have not been slothful 
Thou canst not say I was. Lust, greed, wrath, avarice, 
None ever came between my work and me; 
That I put first; never by nights of lust 
Too spent to labour in the dawning day; 
Never so drunken that I could not set 
Level to stone or hold the plumb-line true; 
Never so wroth as to confound my judgment 
Between the man and the work, or call the one 
Ill-done because I wished the other ill; 
Never so grasping as to take reward 
For what I did not, or despised to do. 
If I neglected lip-service to God, 
My hands served for me, and I wrought His praise 
Not in light words puffed from a slumberous mind 
Like wind, but in enduring monuments, 
Symbol and fruit of that which works, not sleeps. 
Answer me, Angel, what have I ever done 
Or left undone, that I may not repent 
Nor God forgive? 



There where thy treasure is 
Thy heart is also* Sin is of the heart. 

But all my heart was in my work. 


Even so. 


What, in my work? The sin was in my work? 
Thou liest. Though thou speak with God's own voice 
Thou liest. In my work? That cannot be. 
I grant the work not perfect; no man's work 
Is perfect; but what hand and brain could do, 
Such as God made them, that I did. Doth God 
Demand the impossible? Then blame God, not me, 
That I am man, not God. He hath broken me, 
Hath sought to snatch the work out of my hand- 
Wherefore? . . . O now, now I begin to see. 
This was well said, He is a jealous God; 
The work was not ill done 'twas done too well; 
He will not have men creep so near His throne 
To steal applause from Him. Is this my fault? 
Why, this needs no repentance, and shall have none. 
Let Him destroy me, since He has the power 
To slay the thing He envies but while I have breath 
My work is mine; He shall not take it from me. 


No; thou shah lay It down of thine own will 

Never. Let Him heap on more torments yet 

He can heap none on thee. He hath not borne 

Let Him strike helpless hands as well as feet 

Whose Feet and Hands were helpless stricken through 

Scourge me and smite me and make blind mine eyes 

As He was blindfolded and scourged and smitten 

Dry up my voice in my throat and make me dumb 

As He was dumb and opened not His mouth 

Cramp me with pains 


As He was cramped with pains, 
Racked limb from limb upon the stubborn Cross 

1 06 

Parch me with fever 

He that cried, "I thirst" 

Wring out my blood and sweat 


Whose sweat, like blood, 
Watered the garden in Gethsemane 


For all that He can do I will not yield, 
Nor leave to other men that which is mine, 
To botch to alter turn to something else, 
Not mine. 


Thou wilt not? Yet God bore this too, 
The last, the bitterest, worst humiliation, 
Bowing His neck under the galling yoke 
Frustrate, defeated, half His life unlived, 
Nothing achieved. 

Could God, being God, do this? 


Christ, being man, did this; but still, through faith 
Knew what He did. As gold and diamond, 


Weighed in the chemist's balance, are but earth 

Like tin or iron, albeit within them still 

The purchase of the world lie implicit: 

So, when God came to test of mortal time 

In nature of a man whom time supplants, 

He made no reservation o Himself 

Nor of the godlike stamp that franked His gold, 

But in good time let time supplant Him too. 

The earth was rent, the sun's face turned to blood, 

But He, unshaken, with exultant voice 

Cried, "It is finished!" and gave up the ghost. 

"Finished* 1 when men had thought it scarce begun. 

Then His disciples with blind faces mourned, 

Weeping: "We trusted that He should redeem 

Israel; but now we know not. What said He 

Behind the shut doors in Jerusalem, 

At Emmaus, and in the bitter dawn 

By Galilee? "I go; but feed My sheep; 

For Me the Sabbath at the long week's close 

For you the task, for you the tongues of fire/* 

Thus shalt thou know the Master Architect, 

Who plans so well, He may depart and leave 

The work to others. Art thou more than God? 

Not God Himself was indispensable, 

For lo! God died-and still His work goes on. 

)F. Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in 
three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, 
come down from the cross. 

IJf. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, 


and He shall presently give Me more than twelve 
legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures 
be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 

Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief. 

Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief. 

Faithful Cross, above all other 

One and only noble Tree, 
None in foliage, none in blossom, 

None in fruit thy peer may be; 
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, 

Sweetest weight is hung on thee. 


O, I have sinned. The eldest sin of all, 
Pride, that struck down the morning star from Heaven 
Hath struck down me from where I sat and shone 
Smiling on my new world. All other sins 
God will forgive but that. I am damned, damned, 
Justly. Yet, O most just and merciful God, 
Hear me but once, Thou that didst make the world 
And wilt not let one thing that Thou hast made, 
No, not one sparrow, perish without Thy Will 
(Since what we make, we love) for that love's sake 
Smite only me and spare my handiwork. 
Jesu, the carpenter's Son, the Master-builder, 


Architect, poet, maker by those hands 

That Thine own nails have wounded by the wood 

Whence Thou didst carve Thy Cross let not the 


Be lost through me. Let me lie deep in hell, 
Death gnaw upon me, purge my bones with fire, 
But let my work, all that was good in me, 
All that was God, stand up and live and grow. 
The work is sound, Lord God, no rottenness there- 
Only in me. Wipe out my name from men 
But not my work; to other men the glory 
And to Thy Name alone. But if to the damned 
Be any mercy at all, O, send Thy spirit 
To blow apart the sundering flames, that I, 
After a thousand years of hell, may catch 
One glimpse, one only, of the Church of Christ, 
The perfect work, finished, though not by me. 

y . Save me from the lion's mouth; Thou hast heard me 
also from among the horns of the unicorns. 

ty. For why? Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, 
neither shalt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see 


Sheathe thy sword, Michael; the fight is won. 


Close the book, Cassiel; the score is paid. 


Give glory, Raphael; the race is run. 

Lead homeward, Gabriel, the sheep that strayed. 


Eloi, Eloi, Eloi, 
Glory to God in the highest; holy is He! 


How hardly shall the rich man enter in 
To the Kingdom of Heaven! By what sharp, thorny 


By what strait gate at last! But when he is come, 
The angelic trumpets split their golden throats 
Triumphant, to the stars singing together 
And all the sons of God shouting for joy. 
Be comforted, thou that wast rich in gifts; 
For thou art broken on the self-same rack 
That broke the richest Prince of all the world, 
The Master-man. Thou shalt not surely die, 
Save as He died; nor suffer, save with Him; 
Nor lie in hell, for He hath conquered hell 
And flung the gates wide open. They that bear 
The cross with Him, with Him shall wear a crown 
Such as the angels know not. Then be still, 
And know that He is God, and God alone. 

y . Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, 
rose again the third day from the dead, 

1^. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right 
hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He 
shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 


Eloi, Eloi, Eloi, 

Glory to God in the highest; holy is He! 

[While this is sung, the ANGELS go up and stand side 
by side across the stage behind the couch. 


I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the 
Lord. Who is there? I was dreaming. Gervase! Hubert! 

[GERVASE and HUBERT run in, left and right. 



Dear master? 


God hath changed my mind. 
I must submit. I must go back to France. 
I do but hinder the work, lingering here, 
Kicking against the pricks. 


Do not say so! 


What should we do without you? 



I am not 

The only architect in the world there are others 
Will do the work as well, better perhaps. 
Stay not to chide me listen, there is one, 
William the Englishman, a little man, 
But with a mounting spirit and great vision; 
Send now for him. I think we quarrelled once, 
Not seeing eye to eye but that is nothing; 
He will respect my work as I do his, 
And build a harmony of his and mine 
To a nobler close than mine. Ill not dictate 
Conditions to the Chapter; but, should they choose 
William the Englishman to follow me, 
Hell do such work for them as honours God 
And them and all good craftsmen. As for me, 
My place is here no more. I am in God's hand. 
Take me and bear me hence. 


Dear master, whither? 


To the Lady Ursula's lodging. If unto her 
I can make any amends, then I will make it. 
To all of you, I owe a debt of love 
Which I will pay with love. Only to God, 
That royal creditor, no debt remains. 
He from the treasure of His great heart hath paid 
The whole sum due, and cancelled out the bond. 


laus Deo! 

[GERVASE and HUBERT carry WILLIAM out, Tight. 


O quanta qualia sunt ilia sabbata, 
Quae semper celebrat superna curia, 
Quae fessis requies, quae merces fortibus. 
Gum erit omnia Deus in omnibus. 

Vere Jerusalem illic est civitas, 
Cujus pax jugis est summa jucunditas, 
Ubi non praevenit rem desiderium, 
Nee desiderio minus est praemium. 

Illic ex sabbato succedit sabbatum, 
Perpes laetitia sabbatizantium, 
Nee ineffabiles cessabunt jubili, 
Quos decantabimus et nos et angeli. 

[MICHAEL comes down to the foot of the steps and 
addresses the congregation; the other three ANGELS 
standing above him. 


Children of men, lift up your hearts. Laud and magnify 
God, the everlasting Wisdom, the holy, undivided and 
adorable Trinity. 

Praise Him that He hath made man in His own image, 
a maker and craftsman like Himself, a little mirror of 
His triune majesty, 

For every work o creation is threefold, an earthly trin- 
ity to match the heavenly. 

First: there is the Creative Idea; passionless, timeless, 
beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in 
the beginning; and this is the image of the Father. 
Second: there is the Creative Energy, begotten of that 
Idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, 
with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of 
matter; and this is the image of the Word. 
Third: there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the 
work and its response in the lively soul; and this is the 
image of the indwelling Spirit. 

And these three are one, each equally in itself the whole 
work, whereof none can exist without other; and this is 
the image of the Trinity. 

Look then upon this Cathedral Church of Christ: 
imagined by men's minds, built by the labour of men's 
hands, working with power upon the souls of men; 
symbol of the everlasting Trinity, the visible temple of 

As you would honour Christ, so honour His Church; 
nor suffer this temple of His Body to know decay.